SINGAPORE: A petition has been initiated by Singaporean rapper, Subhas Nair at Change.org, gathering signatures from concerned residents of Singapore, urging the government to sever all diplomatic relations with Israel in response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
The petition, which was created on 5 November, calls on Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vivian Balakrishnan, to take a firm stance against Israel’s actions in Gaza, which have drawn condemnation from the international community.
The petition’s signatories express their deep concern over the Israeli actions in Gaza, which they view as a violation of international law and human rights.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected increasing calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. He insisted on the return of the more than 240 hostages taken by Hamas during its 7 October attack on Israel, which led to around 1,400 civilian casualties.
In retaliation to the 7 October attack, Israel initiated a campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, this has resulted in over 10,000 deaths, including 4,000 children.
Israel’s actions in Gaza have been described as a ‘textbook case‘ of genocide, with indiscriminate bombings causing widespread destruction and loss of life, including attacks on hospitals and places of worship.
The petition highlights Israel’s conduct as a clear violation of international laws and a potential act of genocide.
Furthermore, the petition raises concerns about the conduct of the Israeli Embassy in Singapore.
It points to content shared on the embassy’s official social media platforms, which, the petition argues, may incite tensions and emotions among Singaporeans.
Petition seeks diplomatic isolation of Israel over Gaza conflict
The petition calls for the withdrawal of Singapore’s ambassador to Israel and the termination of the Israeli Embassy’s diplomatic presence in Singapore as a measure of diplomatic isolation.
It cites the example of other countries, including Bolivia, Colombia, and Chile, which have recalled their ambassadors from Israel in protest against recent events in Gaza.
The petition concludes with a plea to Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan to consider these concerns and explore diplomatic measures that align with Singapore’s commitment to peace, respect, and justice.
It emphasizes the importance of maintaining principles of justice, human rights, and international peace in Singapore’s foreign relations.
The call to end diplomatic relations with Israel is one of the latest expressions of concern globally about the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
The petition highlights the deep-rooted sentiments among some Singaporeans who feel compelled to take action in response to the situation in the Middle East.
Netizens’ reason for signing
At the present moment, the petition has received over 12,000 signatures.
These signatures collectively represent individuals who have expressed their support for the petition’s objective, which is to advocate for the termination of Singapore’s diplomatic ties with Israel.
A number of these signatories have also taken the opportunity to leave comments, elucidating their motivations for endorsing the petition.
Their comments predominantly revolve around their strong condemnation of Israel’s actions, which they perceive as constituting genocide against Palestinians.
These signatories underscore their solidarity with the principles of humanity and human rights.
One user simply stated, “I don’t want my country to fund a genocide.”
In the meantime, another user fervently emphasized their viewpoint, asserting that it is “clear as day” that Israel, as a country, is engaged in acts that amount to genocide against Palestinians.
Thus, “(Singapore) should not be trading and exchanging arms, or have any diplomatic relationship with “a colonizing state” such as Israel.”
“Cut off their weapons supply and denounce them!” the user added.
Motion by MPs during Parliament debate
On Mon (6 Nov), Members of Parliament (MPs) engaged in discussions about the Israel-Hamas conflict, with over 30 parliamentary questions raised concerning various aspects of the conflict, including humanitarian aid provision and Singapore’s stance on the war.
A motion titled “Solidarity, Security, and Peace – The Israel-Hamas Conflict” was jointly filed by Members of Parliament Vikram Nair (PAP-Sembawang), Alex Yam (PAP-Marsiling-Yew Tee), and Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (PAP-Chua Chu Kang).
The motion aims to express condolences for innocent victims and civilian casualties in the war while advocating for the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilian population in Gaza.
It also condemns those responsible for terrorist acts and violations of international law, and calls for all parties to ensure the safety and security of civilians, including the release of all hostages.
Additionally, the motion reaffirms Singapore’s enduring commitment to a negotiated two-state solution in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and urges all Singaporeans to safeguard and uphold the nation’s multiracial and multi-religious peace and harmony.
Twenty-one members of the House expressed their support for the motion, including 17 MPs, Nominated MPs, Non-Constituency MPs, and four political office holders, namely Dr Balakrishnan, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, and Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Faishal Ibrahim.
Various other MPs, including Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, also voiced their opinions during the debate.
Mr Singh reiterated the Workers’ Party stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict in an 18 October statement, in which the party called on Israel to reject the collective punishment of innocent civilians, cease all military operations in the Gaza Strip and allow for the transit of humanitarian aid into Gaza forthwith.
At the same time, the party called for the immediate return of all Israeli hostages captured in Hamas’ military operation in Southern Israel on 7 Oct 2023.
During the parliamentary discussion, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong mentioned that extremist and terrorist groups in the region are exploiting the Israel-Hamas conflict to incite sentiments and radicalize individuals.
Meanwhile, Dr Balakrishnan emphasized that the conflict serves as “a reminder” that Singapore has national interests at stake, elaborating on the principles underlying the government’s position on what he described as an “unfolding tragedy.”
The MPs also acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defence while denouncing its disproportionate attacks on Gaza.
Leaked document on transfer of Gaza strip occupants
Israeli culture magazine Mekomit published on 28 October a leaked document issued by Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence recommending the occupation of Gaza and total transfer of its 2.3 million inhabitants to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
The document, issued on 13 October, identifies a plan to transfer all residents of the Gaza Strip to North Sinai as the preferred option among three alternatives regarding the future of the Palestinians in Gaza at the end of the current war between Israel and the Hamas-led Palestinian resistance.
The document suggests that Israel should relocate the Gazan population to Sinai during the war. It proposes the establishment of tent cities and new urban areas in northern Sinai to house the displaced population.
Following this, a secure zone several kilometers wide would be created inside Egypt’s borders. The Palestinians who are relocated would be prohibited from returning to any areas in close proximity to the Israeli border.
BREAKING: @mekomit expose shows that the directive to deport 2.4 million #Palestinians out of occupied #Gaza and onto #Egypt and beyond has been officially endorsed by #Israel's Ministry of Intelligence on 13 October. A war crime in the making! pic.twitter.com/5BFsOzSpj3
— Itay Epshtain (@EpshtainItay) October 29, 2023
The presence of the document does not automatically mean that Israel’s security forces are applying its advice.
Although Gila Gamliel from the Likud party leads the Ministry of Intelligence, the ministry does not have authority over any Israeli intelligence agencies. It functions autonomously, creating research and policy documents that are then shared with the government and its security organizations for review.
Nonetheless, recent remarks from officials within the Israeli government and the military activities of the Israeli army in Gaza suggest that the strategies outlined in the document are being put into action.